NZ Film Commission's 'Power of Inclusion' summit to take place in October

A summit that aims to tackle topics of representation and inclusion will take place in Auckland in October, the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) has announced.

The Power of Inclusion will feature a number of speakers from Aotearoa and abroad, including the likes of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern along with filmmakers Niki Caro, Haifaa Al Mansour and Phillipa Boyens.

The summit follows the NZFC's creation of the 125 fund - an investment fund that marks 125 years since Kiwi women won the right to vote, promoting New Zealand's international leadership in women's rights.

The fund is open to dramatic features in any genre and offers an investment of $1.25 million each for up to two projects in which the director and at least one other key creative is a woman.

"The industry is changing. It's important for there to be opportunities for under-represented voices to both be in front of and behind the camera," says NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan.

"And I think globally, we've all come to understand that that's good for community, good for the world for us all to have a place at the table."

The Power of Inclusion is being hosted by the NZFC and Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI), with support from Walt Disney Studios - an American company that is no stranger to making films in New Zealand.

Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon shot their Ava DuVernay-directed A Wrinkle in Time in the South Island, and the mammoth live-action reimagining of animated classic Mulan dominated our studio space last year.

"Disney's worked with New Zealand for many years, partnering on making films in New Zealand," says Sheehan.

"We're really excited to be partnering with them on this programme; they have a shared interest in inclusion and diversity, so this conference fulfils goals for them."

Caro is an acclaimed writer/director whose films include Whale Rider, Mulan, North Country and The Zookeeper's Wife, while Boyens is a long-time Sir Peter Jackson collaborator with all of the Middle-earth films on her CV.

Al Mansour is Saudi Arabia's first ever female filmmaker, whose 2012 film Wadjda was a hit at the NZ Film Festival. She went on to international films Mary Shelley and Nappily Ever After.

Other speakers already announced for the summit include Sorry to Bother You and Mudbound producer Charles D King, The Black List founder Franklin Leonard, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative director Dr Stacy L Smith and The Breaker Upperers star Ana Scotney (Ngāti Tāwhaki).

More speakers and further details about the summit will be revealed in the coming months.

"On the heels of #MeToo, it is more important than ever that women organise to support each other in the crucial work for equal rights and the same opportunities afforded to men," says WIFTI president Helene Granqvist.

"WIFTI networks all over the globe have been working together for more than 40 years, and we will continue until we have equal representation throughout the industry."

The Power of Inclusion will take place in Auckland on October 3 and 4.